ROYAL NAVY RETAINS BABCOCK COMMONWEALTH CUP 2009 The Royal Navy was looking to use its home advantage in the deciding match of the 2009 Babcock Commonwealth Cup against the Royal Australian Navy in Plymouth on Monday. The dry conditions did much to lift the spirits of the Southern hemisphere players and from the kick-off it was clear that both teams would compete to the final whistle, with the title at stake for the RN and honour on the line for their Australian opponents. The match was a keenly fought battle with the home side coming out on top by 34 points to 11. Having lost the opening encounter of the competition against the Kiwis, the Australians were clearly determined to put that behind them and show what they could do. The crowd of nearly 2,000 sensed an exciting clash of 2 sides who would challenge for every ball and fight for every yard. They were not to be disappointed. Time and again the Royal Navy backs found space out wide and surged through the openings. The pace of the wings and the punishing breaks in midfield left the crowd cheering and willing them on. A period of sustained pressure made the Australians defend valiantly in the face of repeated onslaughts by the home team. Three good line breaks in the first half by the RAN side came to nought with poor finishing and although their forwards tested their opposite numbers, they could not steal possession to mount any effective attacks. The first score of the match went to the RN through a penalty, converted by full back Rob Lloyd. Another 2 penalties meant that the score was 9 – 0 to the Royal Navy after 13 minutes of play. The RN seized another chance; a precision cross kick by stand off Wayne John was collected by winger Andy Vance who touched down for 5 more points. After 15 minutes the Royal Navy looked to be romping away with the match, ahead by 14 – 0. The Aussies absorbed wave after wave of attacks until centre Scott Llewellyn was able to pick a perfect line through the defence to score. Conversion missed by Lloyd: score RN 19, RAN 0. Lloyd took an easy penalty kick from inside the Australian 22; RN 22 RAN 0. Tries by hooker Gareth Evans (conv Lloyd) and second row Niall Copeland followed to put the half time score at RN 34 RAN 0. It seemed as if the game was all but over at half time as the Royal Navy had dominated the first half through good ball handling and support play. But the second half was to prove the opposite, with a resurgent Australian team taking the game by the scruff of the neck, their determination and attitude belying the score. Fewer defensive errors, with pressure through effective ball control and aggressive rucking, enabled the Australians to exert constant pressure on the RN side. A quick tap penalty gave Captain Matt Hilyard a break down the sideline to put the Australians on the scoreboard at the 47th minute. Errors and poor kicking presented a number of chances for the Australians to get back into the match and they worked hard to maintain possession and field position. Two penalty goals by winger Dwight Sheperd put the Australians into double figures. Whilst the RAN continued to dominate the remainder of the second half, opportunities for further points were squandered and in the end it was not enough to pull back the first half lead of the Royal Navy. The final score was Royal Navy 34 - Royal Australian Navy 11. The Royal Navy had successfully retained the Babcock Commonwealth Cup, winning the competition for the fifth time. Royal Navy Director of Rugby, Lieutenant Commander Geraint Ashton Jones, was pleased with his team’s performance, “I was really very pleased with the first half but I said that this match would not be a pushover by any means” he said. He paid tribute to the Australian side, “I admired the way that the Australians came out in the second half. At times I thought we lacked composure and our inexperience showed.” Commander Nick Stoker, Australian Tour Commander said. “Congratulations to the RN on a convincing win and a well deserved victory in the Babcock Commonwealth Cup.” The final word went to Geraint Ashton Jones. “I look forward to defending the Commonwealth Cup in Australia in 3 years’ time. Playing rugby in the Southern Hemisphere is always such a challenge and I sincerely hope that the South African Navy will be with us again next time.” Scores: RN: 34 Tries – Vance, Evans, Llewellyn, Copeland Conversions – Lloyd (1) Penalties – Lloyd (4) RAN: 11 Tries – Hilyard Penalties – Sheperd (2) Programme is as follows: Thursday 15th October 3.00pm Babcock Commonwealth Invitation Sevens Thursday 15th October 5.50pm Final of the Babcock Commonwealth Invitation Sevens Thursday 15th October 6.30pm Combined Nations Barbarians v West Country Select XV Tickets are available on the gate - £5 for adults, £3 for under-18s and free for U16s.